During a divorce, either spouse can ask the judge to award spousal
support. In Mississippi, this type of financial support from one spouse
to the other is known as alimony. The court will consider an alimony
award if need financial support and your spouse is able to provide it.
You can show financial need even if you have a job, as long as you can
prove that your income is not enough to provide for your reasonable
needs. An alimony award might also be appropriate if you are
unemployable, meaning that you lack training or education or you have a
disability and are unable to work. Before the court can award alimony,
it has to look at your needs and your spouse’s ability to pay.
Alimony Award Factors
A judge will look at the same factors in every case, which are:
- each spouse’s income and expenses
- each spouse’s age, health and earning capacities
- each spouse’s needs, assets and debts
- whether there are minor children in the home and if the kids require child care by one or both parents
- the standard of living during the marriage and at the time of the support decision
- any tax consequences of the alimony order
- any fault or misconduct; and
- any wasteful dissipation of assets by either spouse.
judge will consider all of these factors and then make a decision. The
length of the marriage and whether one spouse worked as a homemaker are
particularly important elements. For example, if you have been married
for 30 years, and you gave up your career to stay at home to take care
of the kids, you are likely to receive alimony at the time of divorce.
However, if your spouse is not making enough to support both of you, or
is also unemployable, the court may lessen the order for alimony, or may
not order it at all.
Types of Alimony
There are three
different types of alimony awards in Mississippi: periodic alimony, lump
sum alimony, and rehabilitative alimony.
- Periodic alimony
consists of payments set at specific time intervals for a certain
period. For example, this could be a monthly payment for exactly ten
years, or an order that lasts until a specific event occurs. This type
of alimony ends when the dependent spouse gets remarried or if either
spouse dies. Either spouse can go to the court and ask for a
modification if there are changed circumstances. Changed circumstances
can be employment changes for either spouse, or any physical changes or
injuries that prevent either spouse from working.
sum alimony is a one-time payment from one spouse to the other; this is a
final order between the two spouses that cannot be changed or modified.
Although lump-sum payments are generally paid at one time, the court
may allow the payments to be made in fixed installments. For example, if
you are ordered to pay your spouse $50,000, then you may be able to pay
$25,000 at the time of divorce and then another $25,000 in six months.
This is all dependent on court approval. All orders are final, so even
if your circumstances change after the order, you are still responsible
to follow the court order.
- Rehabilitative alimony has
the purpose of helping one spouse obtain training or education to become
self-supporting. This type of alimony is for a fixed period of time and
is subject to modification. For instance, if a judge awards you
rehabilitative alimony for 36 months, and you are able to become
employed and self-supporting within 24 months, then your spouse can ask
the court to end the alimony before the 36 months are over.
does not have specific guidelines or an alimony calculator—each judge
makes decisions on a case by case basis, depending on the factors listed
above. There is no formula for calculating support.
Tax Implications of Alimony
general rule for alimony is that it is tax deductible to the spouse
paying support and reportable as income by the receiving spouse.
Armstrong v. Armstrong, 618 So. 2d 1278 (1993) Factors considered in making alimony awards and types of awards.
Hubbard v. Hubbard, 656 So. 2d 124, 130 (Miss. 1995). Rehabilitative alimony
Mississippi Code § 93-5-23 Custody of children; alimony